Green Union Pressure Politics

This strikes me as the straightforward solution to the dilly-dallying of conservative Arkansas senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor on issues affecting working Americans. Arkansas has a  uniquely strong Green Party, bred as a byproduct of the Republican and Democratic Party machines divvying up political districts to avoid competitive elections. While there may not be a deep bench for labor to look to in Arkansas to primary Lincoln or Pryor, there is the Green Party.

Blanche Lincoln is up for reelection in 2010 and has been one of the most problematic senators in the Democratic caucus when it comes to the Employee Free Choice Act. To say that she is owned, in part or in full, by Wal-Mart would begin to get at the problems that arise when working Americans and Arkansans lobby her to support Free Choice. However there is little avenue for pressuring Senate Democrats, other than at the ballot box. While labor is having an easy time of exerting leftward pressure on Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania because of the deep pro-labor, liberal Democratic bench, there isn’t a similarly large bench in Arkansas. As a result, if labor is going to try to move Blanche Lincoln back to the side of working Americans by exerting political pressure, it will have to be by threatening to — and if necessary carrying out the threat to — put major resources by a Green Party candidate to run for Senate in the general election against Blanche Lincoln.

Lincoln is the archetype of how the labor movement has been undercut by Senate Democrats this year. If pols like Lincoln know that they will not face any consequences when they stab working Americans in the back, they will never change their behavior. Since Dems like Lincoln only understand threats to their tenure in office, the natural course for pressure for unions to pursue is a political challenge. In the case of Arkansas, it seems that the Green Party would offer the best possible opportunity to run a meaningful challenge to Lincoln on behalf of working Americans.

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